Homemade Mashed Potatoes are one of the easiest side dishes to make, but a few simple tricks can take them from average to fantastic! Follow my simple tips and step-by-step photos for the most perfect light, fluffy mashed potatoes!
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As simple as mashed potatoes are to make, I’ve tried too many bland, thick and gluey mashed potatoes at various events recently that I couldn’t help but feel the dire need to share a tried and true Mashed Potatoes recipe with you all.
There are few really simple techniques involved in making mashed potatoes that make a world of difference to their taste and texture. Because really, all the world deserves a side of truly amazing, creamy and soft mashed potatoes. It’s the way they were always meant to be!
What type of potatoes are best for mashed potatoes?
Different types of potatoes will yield different textures and flavor, but the best potatoes for traditional fluffy mashed potatoes are Russet or Yukon gold potatoes. Red potatoes will yield a thicker, chunkier mash. Avoid using fingerling potatoes.
Most importantly, use good quality potatoes! The better the quality, the “fluffier” the potatoes. Avoid potatoes with any green in them. They should be really firm, and no sprouting. Smell the bag before buying it to make sure there are no bad potatoes hiding in it.
How to make Mashed Potatoes:
- Peel potatoes. You can leave the skins on, if you want skins in your mashed potatoes.
- Cook the potatoes. Cut the potatoes in half and add them to a large pot with about 4 inches of water (they don’t need to be completely covered). Cover pot with a lid, and cook, covered, until fork tender, but firm, about 15-20 minutes. You don’t want them mushy or falling apart.
- Drain and steam: Once they are fork tender, drain water completely from the pot and leave potatoes in the pot, covered with a lid, for about 10 minutes. This allows them to steam and dry, which helps us achieve a fluffy texture when they’re mashed.
- Season: Add butter, milk, sour cream and seasonings.
- Mash. Use a potato masher to mash the big potato pieces, and then use an electric mixer to beat them on medium speed for about 30 seconds, until light and fluffy. AVOID over-mixing them or they will get starchy and gummy.
- Serve them warm, garnished with fresh parley, or melted butter, if you want.
Allow the potatoes to rest after cooking. Drain the water from the pot, but leave the potatoes in the pot with the lid on. This gives them time to steam, which will result in fluffier potatoes.
Flavor them, to taste. I always add a scoop of Better then Bouillon chicken base to add great flavor to my mashed potatoes. Thanks, Mom for this great tip! Also, make sure to taste test them before serving. You may want to add more salt and pepper, or an extra scoop of sour cream, or a little melted butter.
Don’t over-mixing: I can’t say it enough, DON’T mash the potatoes to much! As you mix potatoes it causes them to release their starch, which is necessary for creamy mashed potatoes, but too much mixing releases too much starch, and causes thick and gluey mashed potatoes.
Make Ahead Instructions:
Mashed potatoes are a great side dish to make in advance, especially during the holiday season, to free up time and oven-space.
To make ahead, add a little extra milk to the finished mashed potatoes to make sure they’re really soft and not too thick. The potatoes will absorb moisture as they rest. Spoon the mashed potatoes into a casserole dish or large container. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 days.
Remove from fridge 1 hour before baking. Taste and add additional seasonings as needed, or milk, to make sure they are nice and soft. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until warm. You could also reheat them in a saucepan on the stove, or in the microwave.
Mashed Potatoes are the perfect side dish to serve with:
- Cut potatoes in half and place in a large pot with about 4 inches of water (they don't need to be completely covered). Cover pot with a lid, and cook, covered, until fork tender, about 15-20 minutes. You don't want them "mushy" or falling apart.
- Drain water completely from pot and leave potatoes in the pot, covered with a lid, for about 10 minutes. This gives them time to dry out, which helps them to be extra fluffy.
- Remove lid and add butter, chicken bouillon, evaporated milk, sour cream and salt and pepper.
- Mash with a potato masher. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed, or more milk, until they are creamy, fluffy and smooth.
- I use an electric mixer to beat them on medium speed for about 30 seconds, until light and fluffy. But, be careful not to over-mix them or they will get starchy and gummy.
- Serve warm.
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*I originally shared this recipe November 2017. Updated with additional tips and instructions October 2019.